JASON Prior took a giant leap towards a dream Newcastle move by scoring in the second- string defeat of Wigan yesterday.
In front of the watching Alan Pardew, Prior netted the third of United’s three goals in their defeat of the Latics – an impressive way to bring an end to his ten-day trial at Newcastle.
The Journal understands Prior has been impressive in training and there have been encouraging noises from United’s top brass about handing him a chance to leap seven rungs up the football pyramid from Ryman South club Bognor Regis.
United are due to make a decision before the end of the week but a short-term deal with Bognor Regis could be worked out – with 23-year-old Prior seen as a raw talent and drafted into Willie Donachie’s reserves.
Prior was busy in the win over Wigan and saw plenty of the ball but it was his 77th-minute goal – a smart finish into the top corner – that will have done most to impress Pardew.
Remie Streete opened the scoring for United’s reserves just before half-time, before Wigan’s Jordan Rugg levelled the scoring in the 65th minute.
Brad Inman put Newcastle’s second string in front for the second time before Prior found the net.
Sammy Ameobi limped off with an impact injury after playing well, while Haris Vuckic and Dan Gosling also impressed, but Prior’s contribution was the main talking point.
His prolific form for Bognor was what caught United’s eye. Bognor general manager Jack Pearce said there has been no contact between the two clubs, but he is keen for the young striker to get his chance.
“I am delighted Jason did well,” he told The Journal. “As far as I am aware we are still waiting to hear from Newcastle about their decision on Jason, but when I spoke to Alan (Pardew) I said he needed seven to ten days to gain an idea of what he can do.
“Nothing surprises me in football, so Jason coming through and playing in the Premier League? Why not? He is a very good footballer and if you know where the goal is you have half a chance.
It is rare for non-league players to be picked up by top-flight clubs, but there are examples where it has been a success.
Chris Smalling went from Maidstone United to Manchester United via Fulham in the space of just three years, while DJ Campbell and Michael Kightly are both Premier League players who were spotted in the non-league game.